Transport in Manchester

Hi everyone, how is your summer going so far? Welcome Week, and your move to Manchester, is almost a month away, and I know you must all be feeling an array of emotions right now! Hopefully you’ve got your flights and visas sorted, as well as your accommodation. When I was preparing to go and study abroad, these three things were the most stressful things for me, and I felt so much more relaxed when they were sorted!  Remember, the role of the Orientation team is to make sure that you’re feeling more excited than nervous about your move to Manchester, and we want to help you in any possible way that we can. So please feel free to get in touch with us, either via our Facebook page or by commenting on our blog!

As always, my blog today is a request from one of you lovely lot! Viktorija asked if I could write about transport in Manchester, and how to get to campus/the city centre. As I’ve mentioned a few times before, in Manchester, and the UK as a whole, it is generally very easy to get around without a car. Public transport is everywhere, with bus and train being the most convenient ways to travel throughout the country. High petrol prices, combined with expensive insurance for young drivers means that the vast majority of students don’t own a car.

I’d highly recommend that you all download the free app “Citymapper” to your phones. It will give you public transport directions to anywhere in Manchester, in a way which is easy to follow and understand.

GETTING TO CAMPUS

  • The University of Manchester’s campus is split into two different sites – the Main Campus, on Oxford Road, and North Campus which is situated about a mile away nearer to the city centre. Engineering and some other science subjects are based on this campus, and is also the location of the Joule Library. There is a FREE bus (when you show your university ID card) which goes between the two campuses every 10 minutes, Monday to Friday, or alternatively, it is only a 15 minute walk.
  • Oxford Road, where main campus is situated, is actually the busiest bus route in the whole of Europe. There are three universities, three hospitals and hundreds of other businesses on the road, and so there needs to be lots of buses to transport people to and from work! Buses from the city centre, to Fallowfield (where the majority of student accommodation is based) and beyond run every thirty seconds, and you will never ever have to wait for a bus to get you to class!
  • During rush hour (7am-9am, and 5pm-7pm) the traffic on the roads can be pretty bad, and it can take quite a while to get to/from uni, so I would make sure that you always leave enough time to set off so you won’t be late for anything

 

BUS TICKETS

  • There are two main operators of buses on the Fallowfield-University-City Centre route – Stagecoach, and First Manchester. Both are fairly similar in price, but Stagecoach offer more frequent services, and some of their buses go to Manchester Airport. As a result, most students use Stagecoach.
  • Stagecoach offer students season tickets, called ‘Uniriders’, which cost around £240 for an entire year’s worth of travel. They also offer Uniriders for single semesters. You can buy Unirider tickets from the Stagecoach website from the start of September.

BUSES

  • It takes around 15 minutes to get from the city centre to main campus, and 15 minutes to get from main campus to Fallowfield/Withington. All buses travelling TOWARDS University and the city centre have ‘Piccadilly’ as their destination on the front, and include the bus numbers 41, 42, 43, 44, X57, 142, 143. All of these bus numbers go from the city centre to Fallowfield.

TRAINS

  • I know that not all of you have accommodation in Fallowfield, and that some of you may live a little farther away in places such as Salford. Again, this should not be an issue, as there are buses and trains to get you into the heart of Manchester.

Salford Crescent station has frequent trains to Manchester Oxford Road station, from where it is a short 10 minute walk to both North Campus or Main Campus.

 

  • Of course, many of you will want to get out and about and explore the rest of the UK. Some of you may have friends who are studying elsewhere in the UK and will want to go and visit them. The easiest and quickest way to travel the country is by using the trains.  A 16-25 Railcard is something you may want to buy when you arrive in the UK. It gives you 30% of the price of train tickets, and costs £30 for one year. A lot of people want to visit London, but it can be super expensive to travel down there. With a Railcard, you can buy a one-way ticket for as little as £8, which means you have more money to spend in London! You could use your student ID card to get discounted theatre tickets, and cheaper admission to The Tower of London or Westminster Abbey! Even if you are a student who is over the age of 25, you are allowed to buy a 16-25 Railcard.

 

  • The main train station in Manchester is Piccadilly Station, which is just next to our North Campus. There are frequent trains to the airport, London, York, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham and many other destinations across the UK including cities in Scotland and Wales, as well as the Lake District, which I know is somewhere many of you want to visit. Try to avoid travelling if you can, between 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm as this is when trains are very busy, and ticket prices go up. You also can’t use your Railcard during these times, unless the cost of your ticket is more than £15.
  • It’s often cheaper to buy train tickets before you travel, and http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ is a good place to buy them from. This website also shows whether there are any delays or if your train is cancelled, so is really useful.

 

CYCLING

  • Lots of people are turning to cycling as a means of getting fit, whilst also beating traffic jams and getting to where they need to be much quicker! This summer, lots of work is happening on Oxford Road to ensure that cyclists are safe on our streets, with special cycle lanes being built.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog, Oxford Road is one of the busiest roads for buses in the whole of Europe, and unfortunately, this does mean that there can be a high risk of cyclists colliding with buses, especially on the stretch of road between Fallowfield and the university.  It can be quite a stressful road to navigate as a cyclist, and so it is recommended that you cycle along one of the quieter, and more safer routes outlined in this document here: 

 

Additionally, make sure you follow these tips:

1. Take part in free cycle training

2. Wear high-viz clothing day or night.

3. Lights are a must at night (£30 fines for cycling without them)

4. Stay aware: Watch out for pedestrians, car doors opening and always check over your right shoulder

5. Signal: Let people know where you’re planning to go

6. If in doubt, stay back. Cyclists are often unseen by buses and HGVs due to blind spots, even in cycle lanes.

7. Maintain your bike: check your brakes and tyres and oil regularly. Attend a free bike maintenance course.

8. Don’t cycle through red lights or listen to music whilst cycling.

Our Students Union offer lots of advice on cycling safely in Manchester, and can also point you in the direction of free training courses, if you’d like to take advantage of these.

http://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/nusdigital/document/documents/4730/8dec79a719cb36d61216ae0b0746c64b/cycle%20map.pdf

You can buy your own bike, with Edinburgh Cycle Cooperative on Oxford Road being a popular choice for staff and students alike  or you can rent a bike from the Students Union for as little £1 per week!

 

 

Advertisements

Requested blog – Sustainable Living in Manchester

 

Another requested blog – this time on sustainable living in Manchester! Thanks to Helena who asked about this

Don’t forget, if you have anything at all you would like to know about Manchester, let me know and I will answer your questions! I really enjoy listening to you all and hearing what you have to say so please get in touch!

I think over the past few years or so, many people have begun taking an interest in how they can live sustainably and help to reduce their carbon footprint, and this is reflected in our consumption habits, such as what sorts of foods we eat, and our use of public transport.  Fortunately, it is really easy to live an eco-friendly/sustainable life in Manchester, even when you’re on a budget as a student. Last year we were actually voted the world’s 14th most sustainable city, which is really quite an achievement!

One of the easiest ways to be sustainable in the UK is by reusing bags when you are shopping. In 2015, the UK Government introduced a ‘bag charge’, which means that you have to pay 5p for a plastic bag in supermarkets and some other shops. It is hoped that this will reduce demand for plastic bags, and therefore reduce the number of them going into landfill, where they take hundreds of years to decompose. As a result of this, many people use fabric tote bags or rucksacks to carry their shopping in. Additionally, shops sell ‘bags for life’, which cost around 15p and are super strong, durable plastic bags which you can re-use hundreds of times.

Another easy way to be sustainable is to use public transport, or walk. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s really easy to walk about the city, due to its compact size, and most of our buses in the city are hybrid, meaning that they consume less energy than other buses.

The university itself also offers lots of ways for students to get involved in sustainability projects, and it’s worth checking out their website here. One event which is actually happening in the first few weeks of your time here is the Sustainability Challenge, which I will post more about in due course. It’s always really popular and a really good way to network with new students!

During day-to-day life on campus, it is really easy to be sustainable. There are recycling bins all around campus, and it becomes second nature to dispose of your Coca-Cola bottle in the ‘plastic bottle’ bin instead of the ‘general waste’ bin.  During Welcome Week, you are likely to be given an ‘eco bottle’, which is a reusable plastic drinks bottle. Most staff and students try not to use disposable plastic bottles, due to the effect they have on the environment. There are water fountains everywhere around campus so it’s really easy to use a refillable bottle. Additionally, if you use a reusable travel mug (called a Hug Mug) for hot drinks, in many cafés on or near campus you get a discount on your order!

VEGETARIAN/VEGAN RESTAURANTS

Although I’m not a vegan, I am fairly health conscious, and adhere to a vegetarian diet for most days of the week.  One of my favourite places to eat is Eighth Day, on Oxford Road, just a 5 minute walk from campus. It is a co-operative shop which stocks everything, from vitamins and herbal supplements, to vegan skincare and raw chocolate. They also have a deli counter, where you can buy locally made vegetarian burritos and cakes to take out, and downstairs is a café serving homemade food all day. The menu changes daily, and they offer student discount! If I want to treat myself after a long morning of lectures, I always go here for lunch

8thday

  • V Revolution in the Northern Quarter of the city, is a vegan restaurant which serves comfort food, such as grilled cheese and hot dogs. It is very cheap and a very popular place with meat eaters and vegans alike. My friend Laura, who is a vegan, swears by their chicken burger!

 

  • Dough Pizza Kitchen – also in the Northern Quarter –  is a pizzeria which offers vegan cheese and toppings on its pizzas for no extra charge. A little bit more expensive than some other pizza restaurants, but the quality is super good.

 

  • Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen is on Wilmslow Road, in Withington, and is a two minute bus ride from Fallowfield , and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans alike. None of their dishes contain meat, or meat products, and also do not contain onions, garlic or leeks, so are also good for people adhering to Jain diets.

 

BULK SHOPS

There aren’t that many bulk shops in Manchester – the few that do exist are quite far from the city centre and student areas, however on Wilmslow Road, near Whitworth Park is a global foods store called WORLDWIDE, which sells large bags of rice etc as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.

There is also UNICORN GROCERY in nearby Chorlton, who offer huge packets of porridge oats for relatively cheap, and also offer a 15% discount to customers who want to buy whole boxes of fruit or veg.

THE BEST PARKS

heaton park

Whilst Manchester does have some pretty good parks, such as Heaton Park, I would highly recommend getting out and about and exploring the local countryside! It is 30 minutes on the train to the Peak District, where you can spend a day cycling on the Monsal Trail on rented bikes, soaking up the sun and amazing scenery. Similarly, the world famous Lake District is an hour away on the train.

Closer to home are the National Trust sites of Dunham Massey and Lyme Park. The National Trust is a charity which owns beautiful old houses and castles, as well as protected areas of countryside, and their work really helps to conserve these quintessentially areas of the British Isles.

 

Of course, the things I’ve written here aren’t a comprehensive list of everything, and one of the great things about being an international student is that you’ve got so many years to explore and find your own ways of being sustainable in Manchester!

 

I shall blog again in a few days, with another request. In the meantime, have a fantastic rest of the week!

 

Vicki 🙂

Money Money Money

Today’s blog post is a request post from Aadya, who asked if I could talk a little bit about how to budget and manage your money whilst a student here at Manchester. If you have anything which you want me to write about, then please comment and let me know, so I can dedicate a blog post to it over the coming weeks!

Money, and worrying over how to budget is one thing which I think all students have in common, regardless of whether you’re an international student or one from home, but luckily Manchester is comparatively cheap compared to other places in the UK, and as there are so many students in the city, there are lots of student offers available all the time!

I know that it can take a lot of time to plan, but setting yourself a budget and sticking to it is really worth it, to ensure that you live within your means whilst you’re studying. After rent, which I usually pay in bulk at the start of each semester, I leave myself around £70 a week for things such as food, public transport, study expenses and everyday essentials, and this is enough for me to manage on. Over the years, I have managed to find a few tricks to save myself even more money, and I’ll share some of them here with you:

 

  • UNIVERSITY MONEY ADVISORS

No matter how well you think you can manage your money, sometimes it’s nice to have some tips and guidance from a professional money advisor. The University actually offer this, and you can either make an appointment to see somebody, or use their website to learn about all aspects of budgeting and planning as a student. They also offer advice on funding and scholarships which may be available to you to assist in your studies. I’d definitely recommend taking a look at the website before you leave, and bookmarking it on your browser to look at again when you actually arrive in Manchester and have a better idea of your spending.

  • STUDENT DISCOUNT
  • Perhaps one of the best things about being a student, your University of Manchester student ID card proves that you are a student, and if you flash it in some shops and restaurants, you get money off your purchase. For example, you can save 10% on the price of a Macbook in the Apple Store with your ID card, and you can also get 10% off in Topman/Topshop. I’d also recommend signing up for Unidays, which gives you additional discounts, both online and in stores. I recently went for lunch with my friend at Zizzi, and got 20% off our bill using a Unidays discount!

These discounts are seriously so good, and it’s nice that you can afford to treat yourself to a nice meal, or some new clothes without feeling guilty afterwards 🙂

 

  • TEXTBOOKS AND STUDY EXPENSES

 

  • University isn’t cheap, and one of the biggest costs can be textbooks and study materials. For each module that you study, you will be given a list of recommended books to read, and many people will immediately head to the on-campus bookstore, Blackwells, and buy them all. However, for some modules each book can cost around £50, so this would soon add up. Instead, I choose to borrow all of my books from the university library…for free! You can borrow books from the library for a semester, and you can even access pdf versions of some books online. It really is so useful, and I’ve saved so much money by doing this!

 

  • If you do need to buy your own personal copy of a book, Blackwells buy books from students, and sell them on as used copies for quite cheap. This is something you should definitely look into, too.

 

  • Another main study expense which catches people out is the cost of printing off things. You really don’t realise how expensive it is until you look and realise that you’ve spent £20 in a month on printing credit D: there’s not much you can really do to offset this, but always print in black and white, and print double sided!

 

  • FOOD SHOPPING

  • Everyone needs to eat, and whilst there are so many amazing places to eat in Manchester, such as Home Sweet Home, and Turtle Bay, it’s expensive to eat out every day. I know some of you will be in halls of residence where your meals are provided for you, but most of you will be in catered halls, where you make your own food. I love making my own food, and developing my cooking skills, but it can be expensive! I always end up spending most of my budget on Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, instead of fruit and vegetables! So recently, I’ve started to use a meal planner, where I plan what I’m going to make for lunch and dinner each day, and write out a shopping list of what ingredients I’ll need. That way, by sticking to a list, I’m less likely to make those random impulse buys of ice cream, and can work out how much I’m spending.

 

  • I’m also a big fan of leftovers. If I make too much pasta one evening for my dinner, I’ll add some salad and turn it into a pasta salad for the next day’s lunch. Just as delicious as buying a sandwich from one of the stores on campus 🙂

 

  • The main supermarkets in the UK are Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys and Morrisons, and there are many of the shops around the city. Some students also choose to shop online and get these supermarkets to deliver their groceries direct to their home. There are also branches of Aldi and Lidl around the city, and many students choose shop in these two stores as they are significantly cheaper than the aforementioned supermarkets.

 

  • Something else which I think I should mention is that in the UK, you have to pay 5p for carrier bags in supermarkets. This is to try and reduce the amount of bags we throw away so that we as a country become more environmentally-friendly. So I would recommend always taking a rucksack or spare bags with you when you go shopping – you’ll save money AND help the environment

 

TRAVELLING

  • I will be making a more detailed post on transport around both Manchester and the UK in the coming weeks, but I’ll give you a brief summary now on its affordability :). Owning a car isn’t necessary in the UK, and most students don’t have one as public transport is easily available and affordable, and will get you wherever you want to go. The University of Manchester is situated on one of the busiest bus routes in Europe, and it’s really easy to catch a bus. Additionally, as Manchester is quite a compact city, it’s really easy to walk from your halls of residence, or the city centre, to campus. Some people cycle, too, and there is a lot of engineering work underway at the moment to makes the roads near campus more friendly for cyclists.

 

  • A lot of us in the Orientation Office use an app called “CityMapper” to help us plan our journeys around the city. It works like Google Maps, but offers much more detailed information on public transport, and I think it would be really useful for you all – especially in your first few weeks here in Manchester, when everything is still so overwhelming

 

  • If you plan on travelling around the UK, to see the sights or visit friends who attend other universities, a 16-25 Railcard is something you may want to buy when you arrive in the UK. It gives you 30% of the price of train tickets, and costs £30 for one year. A lot of people want to visit London, but it can be super expensive to travel down there. With a Railcard, you can buy a one-way ticket for as little as £8, which means you have more money to spend in London! You could use your student ID card to get discounted theatre tickets, and cheaper admission to The Tower of London or Westminster Abbey!

 

I don’t want to overwhelm you all, so I’ll stop here. If you’d like anymore tips, please feel free to leave me a comment, either here or on our Facebook page!

 

Have a good weekend, everyone 🙂

 

Vicki x

Manchester

Hello again!

How are you all doing? I’m now into the second week of my internship and getting into the swing of things 🙂 My to-do list is getting longer and longer – this coming Saturday, we will be picking some of you up from the airport for our pre-sessional English classes, so I am making sure that all our Ambassadors will be ready to meet you at the airport and get you settled into your halls of residence! I’m also making all the tickets for our fun events during Welcome Week, such as our bus tours of the city and our Café Crawl! If you haven’t already, take a look at all the events going on during Welcome Week: http://events.manchester.ac.uk/calendar/date:2016-09-18/tag:welcome_week/

Today, I want to talk a little bit about the University itself and find out what made you all apply to study here. Something which as always interested me is how and why international students such as yourselves decided to come and study at Manchester – whether you are about to start a foundation year, or commence a PhD. Even as a UK student, I found is so hard to choose which university to attend, as there are just so many different factors to consider when making your choice! For example, you need to ensure that the course and the modules fit your interests, that the teaching is good, and that you can ultimately imagine yourself living in the city in which your chosen university is based. Each person is different, and prioritises each of these things differently depending on their needs, but the good thing about the city of Manchester, and the University of Manchester is that every need really is catered for!

mcr2mcr3mcr4mcr5samalexgrad7peakdistrictI’m actually from Manchester, and have lived here ever since I was born. I love the city so much, and so it only seemed natural for me to attend university here in the city.  One of the things I love the most about Manchester is that it is the second biggest city in the UK and has all the multiculturalism and vibrancy of London or New York. However, it also has the friendliness of a small town – everyone is welcoming and approachable and willing to help you if you ask them. It’s a great city to be a student in for these reasons, and also because it’s really affordable! Additionally, if the hustle and bustle of the city gets too much for you, Manchester is surrounded on all sides by nature – from the Peak District, to the Lake District and Snowdonia National Park just a short train ride away. It really is a unique place, where you get the best of multiple worlds.

Of course, the university is excellent too, and we are incredibly lucky to have a world-class university in a great city. There is a fantastic support network, from student societies within the students union and counselling, to classes which teach you how to write essays at degree level. These sorts of things benefit everyone, but they are invaluable for international students, and I think you will all find these things really helpful when you arrive here!

So, what made you want to study at Manchester? Was it the chance to study at one of the most respected universities in the world, or was it the chance to live in one of the most diverse cities in the UK? Or something else entirely? Comment below and let me know!

A brief introduction

Hi everyone!

 

My name is Vicki, and I’m spending my summer interning in the International Office, helping to organise your arrival and orientation here at Manchester! As well as necessary things like picking you all up from the airport, and getting you checked into your accommodation, we’re planning lots of fun activities such as tours around the city, and movie nights for your first few weeks here so that you quickly feel like Manchester is your second home!

I’ll be posting on this blog, and also on our Facebook page quite a lot over the next 8 weeks, so I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick introduction so you know a little bit more about me:

 

  • I will be going into my final year at The University of Manchester in September, studying Sociology. I’ve lived in Manchester for all my life, and while many people in the UK choose to go to a university which isn’t in their home town, I love the city of Manchester so much that I decided to stay! There’s so much to love about the city, and it’s very easy to make it feel like home.
  • I love learning about and immersing myself in new cultures, and throughout my degree, I’ve tried to get as much international experience as possible. In 2015, I went to Shanghai, China, to study Mandarin, and I have just come back from the USA, where I spent a semester studying on exchange at The University of Missouri – Columbia. Therefore, I have experience of being an international student myself, and trust me, I know just how crazy/scary/exciting it all is! Trust me though, you are all going to have an amazing experience

I’m really excited to have this job, and really want to work hard to ensure that every single one of you settles into university life and life in Manchester as quickly as possible. I will be trying to update this blog on a weekly basis, and each week will have a theme. Some of the themes I have in mind so far are:

  • where to find the best worldwide food in the city
  • fun things to do around Manchester
  • What to pack

If you have any suggestions for other themes which I could do, or any questions you’d like to ask me, please do comment below, or on our Facebook page! Even if you don’t have any questions or suggestions, comment and say Hello! I will probably see some of you during Orientation Week, and it would be lovely to get to know you all beforehand 🙂

 

Vicki x